Does anybody remember that Jason Statham movie, Crank? It was a movie about a guy that had to keep adrenaline pumping through his body or else he would succumb to the poison he had been injected with. A silly premise for a movie, but one that gives enough context for one crazy stunt or set piece after another for two hours.
Gamechuck, the developers of Speed Limit, have likely seen that movie. Perhaps they even took some inspiration from it. Their game is advertised as an action-packed ride from one homage of gaming history into the next in a breathless adventure. Did they pull it off? Is Speed Limit an unstoppable, action-packed romp? If you read the title of this review, you already know it isn’t, but let’s get into the “why”, in this review of Speed Limit on the Nintendo Switch.
We should first talk about the things Speed Limit has going for it. The pixel art presentation, while one that is pretty common among indie games, remains to be endearing in its simplicity. Everything has just enough detail made up of blocky pixels for you to be able to decipher what it is, and it works for this game. There are also a number of visual shifts that happen over the course of the game that are core to the experience, and are effectively implemented.
These visual shifts make up the six different stages of Speed Limit, and each one is designed to completely overhaul the gameplay and allow you to reminisce about a much earlier era in gaming. The stages emulate the gameplay of iconic titles like Metal Slug, Spy Hunter, Afterburner, and more, and prove to be pretty accurate facsimiles. I’m too young to have enjoyed these games in their heyday, but I am familiar with later versions of them, so I know enough to recognize the affection for the games that is on display in Speed Limit.
The issue is, and it’s a pretty big one: Speed Limit is frustratingly difficult. Whether you play in arcade or even “easy” mode, you’re looking down the barrel of many, many death screens before you get to the end. Maybe I’m not in the target demographic for Speed Limit, perhaps it’s more intended for the hardcore fans of the games that inspired it, but I wasn’t able to derive much fun in any of these stages.
Like in Crank, you’re whisked from stage to stage, and your only option is to keep going and adapt to wild changes in perspective and gameplay. The transitions work and are very stylish, but the game moves too fast. A game called Speed Limit should probably have speed in its favor, but obstacles, enemies, and challenges are thrown at you so fast without warning, that your only option is to keep dying until you get that portion of the stage right. And then it’s on to the next loop of deaths. This type of design has its fans I’m sure, but I’m not one of them.
This design carries through to the very end of the game, which wraps up in a pretty fun way, I thought. It’s just unfortunate that I didn’t have much fun playing it when I have had fun playing the games that inspired it before.